Larry Kaseberg moves his irrigation systems while they're operating. He simply dons a raincoat, attaches a hook at the end of each system to the rear of his utility vehicle and pulls it to new ground.
“As long as we're in the same pasture, we never turn them off,” Kaseberg says.
He uses K-Line systems, which are characterized by tub-like “pods” that protect sprinklers spaced 50' apart along a polyethylene tube. Developed by a New Zealand dairy farmer, they're said to reduce labor and water costs compared with other systems.
Kaseberg began selling them from his irrigation supply business in The Dalles, OR, about five years ago, and shortly thereafter bought two to replace the hand-line systems in his horse and cow pastures.
“They're excellent on small pastures,” he says. “I can move both 15-pod lines in about 15 minutes.”
He says they also work well on steep hillsides and in irregular fields and pastures. They're priced about the same as hand- and wheel-line systems.
Frank Hendrix, a Washington State University extension agent in Yakima County, switched from hand lines to a K-Line system for his test plots five years ago. The two systems deliver the same amount of water, but, like Kaseberg, Hendrix has seen a big labor savings.
“It was hard to hire a high school kid to move those hand lines, even for $10 an hour,” Hendrix says. “But they're standing in line to move the K-Lines with the ATV.”
Compared to wheel lines, Hendrix says K-Lines are easier to move, with fewer mechanical problems. A K-Line does not need to be shut off and drained and is usually moved with an ATV rather than with a built-in motor.
“The circle pivot is probably the Cadillac of sprinklers, but it is very expensive and limited in the size and shape it can irrigate,” says Hendrix. “The K-Line works well in different sizes and shapes of fields.”
The one limitation Hendrix sees to the systems is their length. The tubing delivers enough water for a maximum of 12-15 pods, or 600-750'.
The systems have proved popular with grass-based dairies that move cows daily among small paddocks. Watering those paddocks is difficult with pivot irrigation, but K-Lines work well, says Terry Gompert, a University of Nebraska extension educator in Knox County.
Gompert also notes that pivot water falls heavily on one spot for a few seconds, essentially creating a flood. K-Line sprinklers deliver water more slowly, which seems to increase grass production.
“It's nice to see an application that gives an advantage to small producers,” Gompert says.